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Old July 1 2013, 06:42 PM   #32
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Marines and Combat Personel?

neozeks wrote: View Post
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
I'm saying that Starfleet can lend itself to a military role if and when it needs to but otherwise isn't an organization that actually fits the modern definition of "military" and apparently doesn't even fit the 24th century definition.
Wikipedia wrote:
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or pereceived threats.
I'd say Starfleet fits that definition.
So do resistance movements and terrorist organizations, but nobody ever confuses them with "the military."

Mainly this is a feature of current international law and not simply of definitions: the Geneva Conventions requires the clear separation between military and civilian operations at all times and states that military operations are prohibited from damaging civilian infrastructure.

The Starfleet doesn't normally distinguish between "civilian and non-civilian" targets in its normal operations. Their much greater concern involves the prime directive, which tells them when they can and cannot interfere with other cultures. This is a VERY important difference, because if the Federation was following anything similar to the Geneva Conventions, we have effectively seen the Enterprise turning its weapons against civilian installations quite a number of times, often in the absence of declared hostilities. There are various races such as the Borg, the Dominion, the Klingons and even the Ferengi where the distinction between civilians and military forces is either vague or totally non-existent.

And I'd say this distinction of "if and when it needs to" is meaningless because it always needs to. Even when there is no war. The Neutral Zone always has to be patrolled, for example, and that's a military operation.
Strictly speaking, that's a border security operation, which is usually a job for law enforcement, not the military.

As long as the Federation has potentially hostile neighbours, the need for a military role is permanent.
And that is distinct from the need for a permanent military, the existence of which is necessitated less by the practical need for a fighting force as for the need to distinguish between fighters and non-fighters. In a society where that distinction has become irrelevant (if said society was surrounded by people/things that don't recognize the difference anyway), so too would the concept of a permanent military.

Put that another way: if the United States were suddenly threatened by a species of hyper-intelligent sharks who thought the American obesity epidemic made us especially tasty, which organization would be best suited to respond to that threat? My first guess would be NOAA; my second guess would be the Coast Guard. And after a hundred and fifty years of having to deal with weird shit like that on a regular basis, it seems to me that NOAA and the Coast Guard would probably merge at some point.

The fact that most of the fleet might be doing something else (which I don't think is even true much of the time) doesn't make Starfleet non-military any more than the fact that the USCG spends most of it's time doing search and rescue, disaster response and so on makes the USCG non-military.
The thing that makes the U.S. Coast Guard a military organization is the U.S. law says it is. Nothing more, nothing less. It is one of the very few coast guard organizations in the world that has this feature; most other nations -- Japan, for example -- operate theirs under civilian ministries.

This also appears to be a difference between Starfleet and its neighbors: most spacefaring powers incorporate their space fleets under military jurisdiction, while the Federation -- for whatever reason -- does not.
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